The Hold Steady’s “Southtown Girls” may well be the most listened to single song in my collection since the release of their latest album, Boys and Girls in America, in October. It’s damn catchy in that ‘return-to-the-rock’ kind of way that harkens back to the days of fist pumping, debauched, fake-arena rawk not seen en masse since the Afghan Whigs at their peak.

To the uninitiated, not unlike it’s predecessor, 2004’s Separation Sunday, Boys and Girls in America is at first listen quite the unassuming album. Full of loud bursts of guitars, bordering on pastiche keyboard fills, and leader Craig Finn’s bark, The Hold Steady come off as a seasoned bar band. It’s only on further examination that you decode the back alley poetry and creeping charm that make up the band. Paeans to drinking, love, misery, the streets, and the working class — The Hold Steady can at times seem like (albeit less depressing) an aural counterpart to a Bukowski short story.

What has been the most surprising (and refreshing) about The Hold Steady is the fact that they have been so accepted in contemporary music. Non-pretentious, un-ironic, bare bones rock & roll has not been fashionable in years and yet these guys are making it in today’s fickle rock landscape.

Previously: You can read my two part interview with The Hold Steady’s Franz Nicolay from last January HERE.

MP3: The Hold Steady :: Southtown Girls
MP3: The Hold Steady :: Chips Ahoy!
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Amazon: The Hold Steady – Boys and Girls in America

+ The Hold Steady available through eMusic’s 25 Free MP3 offer.
+ Visit The Hype Machine for additional The Hold Steady MP3s.

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